GPC works towards channel duplication EIS

A MAJOR dredging project is on the agenda for Gladstone's port, to duplicate part of the current one-way shipping channel already in place.

In light of the potential anticipated growth of the port with LNG exports and the new Wiggins Island coal terminal, the Gladstone Ports Corporation has carried out channel capacity studies to understand the adequacy of the port's existing and future shipping channels.

The most recent channel capacity study showed that the port's ability to accommodate an increase in future shipping traffic was limited by the current one-way channel.

The project won't begin anytime soon, but the Gladstone Ports Corporation is required to submit a detailed brief of environmental information following feedback from its previous major dredging project.

The 2011 Western Basin Dredging and Disposal project, the largest dredging project in Australia's history, had issues that were said to have caused environmental damage in the harbour.

The new project will duplicate the Gatcombe and Golding shipping channels, located in the harbour between South Trees and Tannum Sands.

The GPC has to collect environmental baseline data, detailed designs and undergo assessments on the impact the dredging would have to the harbour, which could take up to two years.

Chief executive officer Craig Doyle said whilst the GPC was starting work towards preparing an environmental impact statement, there was no immediate need to begin dredging any time in the near future.

"Based on the current and predicted shipping demand over the next five years from existing and soon to be completed industries within the Gladstone region, there is no immediate requirement for any physical capital dredging to take place," he said.

Mr Doyle said to facilitate the potential increase in port throughput into the future and to mitigate the risks caused by additional vessels utilising the port's shipping channels, there was an overriding need to duplicate the Gatcombe and Golding Cutting Channels at some point in the future, and potentially other port shipping channels in the long-term.

"Without the duplication of the Gatcombe and Golding Cutting Channels, the ability of the port to accommodate potential future trade commitments will be significantly limited, hindering the economic potential of the region," he said.

"A 'no-action' option would also result in potential shipping delays, safety risks and other issues associated with increased congestion of existing shipping channels."

Mr Doyle said the GPC was focused on implementing lessons learned from previous port development projects and keeping the community and stakeholders updated on the project's progress.

"As we have stated previously, we have taken key learnings from the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project and the Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone and we are committed to incorporating these learnings into future projects, and working alongside State and Federal Government to implement those recommendations from the review pertaining to GPC."

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